Some Chicago Bulls fans thought they had stumbled on a great value pick in Justin Lewis. A projected early second-round pick, he fell out of the draft, and the Bulls pounced and verbally agreed with Lewis to a two-way contract, immediately after the draft on June 23.
Lewis played two seasons at Marquette, and showed significant improvement in his sophomore season, boosting his scoring average from 7.8 to 16.8 points, and shooting percentages from 22% to 35% and 58% to 76% from the perimeter and free throws respectively. The drastic improvements got him named the Big East conference Most Improved Player and First Team All Big East.
With his 7’2” wingspan, Lewis got his first glimpse as a Bull when he played in the Summer League and averaged 7.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks in 22.5 minutes a game. He showed flashes of the impact he could provide for the Bulls down the road.
However, his path to getting his first taste of the NBA hit a snag. On August 11, KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reported that he suffered a potentially serious ACL injury during an offseason workout away from the team.
On August 16, the Bulls confirmed that he had sustained an injury to his right anterior cruciate ligament and would go under the knife soon. The fact that he will be having surgery to repair his ACL, probably means it was a tear.
He was projected to play spend most of the season with the G-League affiliate Windy City Bulls. The ACL injury puts a delay on that as he spends most of the year rehabbing to get back healthy.
Timetable for Justin Lewis?
Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are common for serious injuries related to basketball. Unlike Achilles ruptures, players usually can return to pre-injury level performances after a successful rehab of ACL injuries.
If Lewis indeed suffered an ACL tear in his right knee, the common timetable would be anywhere from six to nine months after the surgery. This likely means that Lewis will not see any time this year in his rookie year, and instead will likely be spending the entire season rehabbing to get back to his pre-injury form.
The fact he is on a two-way deal likely puts more pressure on the youngster compared to if he was drafted and signed to a guaranteed multi-year deal. Depending on how he comes back after the injury, he could very well see a future in the rotation of the Bulls or could be in another uniform.
Bulls Other Rookie Could Blossom
Regardless of if Lewis can find a footing with the Bulls, fans must be excited about their first-round pick Dalen Terry.
Terry kept himself busy this summer playing in the Drew League in Los Angeles, and then in the CrawsOver in Seattle. He showed out in the Northwest, posting a 56-point, 15 rebounds, and 7 assist game that had people paying attention.
Terry averaged 11.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in five games of the Summer League. He has a promising future, and will likely be eased into the rotation, especially with the Bulls already equipped with so many wings on their roster.